Friday, February 26, 2010

Political Digest February 26, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

Why Bi-partisanship will never work on Healthcare
The basis party philosophies are too opposed. The Democrats stand for bigger government, the Republicans for smaller government. For Democrats, the bills are not about reducing costs, but about building Democrat support by enlarging government and shifting costs from democrat supporters to government, thus to taxpayers. More government means more government workers paying union dues to support Democrats and voting Democrat to keep the tax dollars flowing their way. The things that would really bring down the cost of healthcare are tort reform and competition. Tort reform is blocked because not only are all the Democrat leaders lawyers, but the lawsuit industry—one of our largest industries—pours millions into Democrat campaigns. They cannot cut off that money and win, so they are wholly owned by the trial lawyers. Nor can they allow real competition on insurance, as that would anger many provider groups protected by state mandates.

Lastly, Republicans are about individual responsibility, while Democrats are about the nanny state, because that builds government, thus Democrat voters and contributors. Individual responsibility is a hard argument to win—a growing number of people think government should take care of them, solving all their problems, providing for their needs from jobs to education to healthcare. This includes a lot of supposedly conservative business folks who want trade protection, bailouts or government regulation to disadvantage their competitors. The percentage of self-reliant adults in our society is shrinking, and the percentage of children-over-thirty is growing.

A compromise to “medium” government builds government, as next year there is another “compromise” to a larger government. Not even Reagan was able to reduce government. And once a government program is passed, it develops a constituency of government workers employed by it and clients served by it who fight furiously to keep it, much harder than small government types can fight to reduce or eliminate it. This leads to an every-growing government and concomitant reduction in personal liberty, until the Roman Republic becomes the Roman Dictatorship. And, of course, eventually it grows too big, bureaucratic and expensive to continue and collapses (see Soviet Union). But the painfully costs of the Nanny state are all around us (see Detroit).

Heading into healthcare summit, Republicans fear Obama trap
If it was about Republican ideas and bi-partisanship, Republican ideas have been on the table for a year. The democrats and Media have conspired to pretend they were not there, that Republicans were only the “Party of no.” The only question for Republicans was the PR worse if they didn’t go than if they did. We shall see. Excerpt: The White House’s unwillingness to discuss what steps will follow Thursday’s bipartisan healthcare summit is intensifying GOP worries that the party is walking into a public-relations trap. Congressional Republicans have been wary from the beginning about how the summit might be portrayed, and their criticism has only increased since the release of President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan on Monday. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Tuesday repeatedly refused to discuss any of Obama’s post-summit plans if the meeting fails to bring Democrats and Republicans together, even though all evidence indicates there will be no melding of the minds at Blair House. Gibbs this week has repeatedly declined to “prejudge” the meeting’s outcome. The day before the summit, in an unusual move, Gibbs did not brief reporters at all.

How the White House lost its message
Could it be that the plan was bad and the public didn’t want it? No, had to be the message. Excerpt: The White House fumbled the message on healthcare reform and left President Barack Obama’s administration hanging in the balance, according to Democratic lawmakers and senior aides. In his first year, Obama failed to use the bully pulpit effectively and rally the public around one proposal early in the debate, despite polls showing strong support for core elements of the Democratic plan, the lawmakers and aides told The Hill.

Liberal Dem not happy about White House health summit lineup
Mao or Lenin wasn’t available? Excerpt: A leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) voiced concern on Wednesday that the House Democrats' contingent to the White House healthcare summit is not liberal enough.

A Better Way to Reform Health Care
The critical problem is rising costs. The solution is more competition and greater individual control over health spending. Here's how.
Excerpt: To bring down costs, we need to change the incentives that govern spending. Right now, $5 out of every $6 of health-care spending is paid for by someone other than the person receiving care—insurance companies, employers, or the government. Individuals are insulated from the reality of what their decisions cost. This breeds overutilization of low-value health care and runaway spending. To reduce the growth of costs, individuals must take greater responsibility for their health care, and health insurers and health-care providers must face the competitive forces of the market. Three policy changes will go a long way to achieving these objectives: (1) eliminate the tax code's bias that favors health insurance over out-of-pocket spending; (2) remove state-government barriers to purchasing and providing health services; and (3) reform medical malpractice laws. We estimate these three changes will reduce health-care costs by over $100 billion per year and permanently reduce the number of uninsured by up to 13 million.

Obama's Health Plan -- Taxes, Taxes Everywhere
Excerpt: The White House recently released President Obama’s health care reform proposal. The plan incorporates a mixture of the many tax increases passed by the House and Senate, hiking taxes by almost $750 billion over ten years. This is on top of $1.3 trillion in other tax increases the President recently proposed in his 2011 budget. Not that there is ever a good time to raise taxes, but doing so as the economy is still emerging from a deep recession is particularly ill-advised and will likely prolong full recovery. Moreover, the President’s proposal deviates from his stated goal to address the soaring spending and debt problem the nation faces by piling on massive new spending and taxes.

Democrats looking beyond health-care summit to final talks within party
We want to hear your ideas—which we already plan to ignore. Excerpt: Congressional Democrats are already looking beyond the White House health-care summit, reckoning that Thursday's session will amount to little more than political theater and focusing instead on a final round of intraparty negotiations that are likely to determine the fate of President Obama's top domestic priority.

A conservative agenda for cities
Excerpt: As conservatives set out to forge a positive governing agenda, an area to which they should turn their attention is that of the future of American cities. An "urban agenda" has, to be sure, been synonymous with liberalism--at least since Lyndon Johnson established the Department of Housing and Urban Development--but, in reality, it is conservatism which has brought greater benefits to cities in recent years and offers new if not widely-known policy ideas which hold more promise than yet another generation of subsidized housing and jobs programs which dominate the liberal menu. The liberal approach to cities has had a long series of incarnations since the Johnson era: HUD, Model Cities, Community Development Bloc grants, Empowerment Zones, community development corporations and housing vouchers. They promised they could both rebuild declining neighborhoods--and provide a hand up for the urban underclass. In reality, they did little of either--instead, renovating scattered buildings at great expense and providing non-profit social service jobs, rather than sparking economic dynamism. If the Democratic urban agenda had worked, then Cleveland, Buffalo and Detroit would all be booming, rather than being the dangerous ghost towns they’ve become. Conservatives don’t talk much about cities but actually have an urban policy of which to boast. Most notably, the triumph of New York-style crime prevention-oriented policing has led to a public safety revolution, one that allows poorer neighborhoods and their residents to thrive by actually reducing crime. "Compstat" policing has served as a rebuke to liberals who insisted that only some ill-defined social justice utopia would ever cut crime; instead, it turns out that cutting crime allows cities to rebound. In New York, where property values in Brooklyn and Harlem have skyrocketed, the numbers are simply stunning--a drop in murder from 2200 in 1990 to just 471 last year--a drop that benefits at-risk minority group members the most by literally saving their lives. So, too, has welfare reform--passed by a Republican Congress in 1996--helped cut into the culture of underclass dependency which had come to dominate too many urban neighborhoods. Its work requirement and time limit has been an astounding policy success, with the emergence of an urban working class its embodiment. Again using New York as the example, the welfare rolls have dropped over 20 years from 1. 1 million to just 320,000.

Climate Change: Developing Countries Control the Thermostat
Excerpt: It has long been recognized that no policies undertaken solely by Western countries can reduce future global warming, regardless of the developed world's past and current contributions to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Rather, fast-growing developing countries control the climate change thermostat, says H. Sterling Burnett is a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Climate scientists hope independent reviews will reverse public’s loss of trust
Excerpt: The two most influential advisory bodies on climate change are planning independent reviews of their research in an attempt to regain public trust after revelations about errors and the suppression of data. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is to appoint an independent team to examine its procedures after admitting having made errors that exaggerated the severity of the impact of global warming. The Met Office, which supplies the global temperature trends used by the IPCC, has proposed that an international group of scientists re-examine 160 years of temperature data. The Met Office proposal is a tacit admission that its previous reports on such trends have been marred by their reliance on analysis by the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.

Manmade Global Warming: How a Lie Died
Excerpt: Private industry and governments around the world have spent trillions of dollars in the name of saving our planet from manmade global warming. Academic institutions, think tanks and schools have altered their curricula and agenda to accommodate what was seen as the global warming “consensus.” Mounting evidence suggests that claims of manmade global warming might turn out to be the greatest hoax in mankind’s history.

A Pending American Temperaturegate
Excerpt: Our study of data-massaging by the U.S. government agency charged with collecting temperature information raises uncomfortable questions.We have been repeatedly told (perhaps "lectured" is a better word) the past twenty years that global warming is occurring. With Climategate and subsequent confessions and bailouts by scientists at the CRU, Penn State, Arizona State, IPCC, et al., we are learning that little to none of the factual content in their "peer reviewed" articles is true. The Medieval Warming Period did occur, and it was warmer than currently; the oceans are not going to flood the plains; and the Arctic Ocean may not be turning into a summer water park. Of course, the mainstream media, especially in the United States, has reported little of this news, and President Obama appears not to be well-informed. But now the global warming story grows more interesting because here in America, we may have our own little "gate." I will call it ATG, for "American Temperaturegate." NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) informs us, based on their "Adjusted Data" for the period from the last decade of the 19th century to 2006, that the temperature for the contiguous U.S. has increased at a rate of 0.69oC/century. Click here. NCDC arrives at this conclusion by massaging raw data from a set of meteorological stations located in the contiguous U.S. which they selected on the basis of a 2.5-degree latitude- and 3.5-degree-longitude grid. For more on this, click here and here. The most-asked question, most recently by D'Aleo and Watts, is whether the NCDC's reported increase is correct. Perhaps the value is due to a dominant use (over-selection) of stations in urban locations or because of other issues, such as leaving out stations at higher altitudes for the more recent history and retaining them for the more distant past.

Democrats exiting (or not entering) the sinking ship?--Part 24
Excerpt: On National Review Online Jim Geraghty informs us that according to Tennessee Public Radio, Tennessee Democrats are having a hard time finding a serious candidate to run in the seat being vacated after 26 years by House Science Committee Chairman Bart Gordon. Democratic State Chairman Chip Forrester is quoted as saying, “We need to make sure we find the right candidate – a moderate, business-oriented Democrat for the 6th congressional district – and we’re working very hard on that now.” The fact that Democrats are having difficulty fielding a serious candidate in a seat formerly held by Democratic luminaries including Andrew Jackson, Cordell Hull and Albert Gore Sr. and Jr. tells you something interesting about their plight this year.

Georgia to sue Obama admin. over voter citizenship check
Citizens? Where Obama comes from, voters don’t even have to be alive! Excerpt: Election officials in Georgia are accusing the Obama administration of "playing politics" with proposed changes to its voting procedures. The state had asked for permission to use Social Security numbers and driver's license data to verify whether voters are U.S. citizens. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said Wednesday he plans to sue the Department of Justice to get them to approve the changes. "The Justice Department is denying Georgia's legal requirement to verify the information provided by new voter registration applicants," Kemp said in a statement.

For liberals, the filibuster is now the enemy
Excerpt: Today's health policy "summit" comes at a moment when, as happens with metronomic regularity, Washington is reverberating with lamentations about government being "broken." Such talk occurs only when the left's agenda is stalled. Do you remember mournful editorials and somber seminars about "dysfunctional" government when liberals defeated George W. Bush's Social Security reforms? The summit's predictable failure will be a pretext for trying to ram health legislation through the Senate by misusing "reconciliation," which prevents filibusters. If the Senate parliamentarian rules, as he should, that most of the legislation is ineligible for enactment under reconciliation, the vice president, as Senate president, can overrule the parliamentarian. This has not happened since 1975, but liberals say desperate times require desperate measures. Today's desperation? Democracy's majoritarian ethic is, liberals say, being violated by the filibuster that prevents their enacting health legislation opposed by an American majority. Some liberals argue that the Constitution is unconstitutional. Their reasoning is a non sequitur: The Constitution empowers each chamber to "determine the rules of its proceedings." It requires five supermajorities (for ratifying treaties, endorsing constitutional amendments, overriding vetoes, expelling members and impeachment convictions). Therefore it does not permit requiring a sixth, to end filibusters.

Fearing Obama Agenda, States Push to Loosen Gun Laws
Excerpt: When President Obama took office, gun rights advocates sounded the alarm, warning that he intended to strip them of their arms and ammunition. And yet the opposite is happening. Mr. Obama has been largely silent on the issue while states are engaged in a new and largely successful push for expanded gun rights, even passing measures that have been rejected in the past.

Letter from Canadian parents
Excerpt: Today we were sent your story of February 14, 2010. The “unknown” Canadian is our son Danny. He is a 23-year-old soldier from Vancouver, Canada. Your photographs were extraordinary and have impacted so many people here in Canada. There has been an outpouring of affection for the Americans who helped Danny in his moment of need. For that, we thank you for recording these acts of kindness into history. Danny's injuries were the result of an explosion on February 12, 2010. Four Canadian soldiers were injured and tragically one Canadian soldier was killed. Within 20 minutes of the explosion, Danny was airlifted by helicopter to Kandahar. Upon arrival he received emergency surgery that saved his life and prepared him for the flight to Bagram that you were on.

New Charges Are Expected for Others in Terror Plot
Excerpt: In his guilty plea to conspiracy charges, Najibullah Zazi often referred to other unnamed people in their plan to set off explosives on the New York subway system. Yet thus far, federal authorities have revealed virtually nothing about who, exactly, Mr. Zazi was conspiring with.

Saudi cleric backs gender segregation with fatwa
Note to leftwing feminists who support the Multiculturalists’ efforts to bring Shari’a Law here—have you thought it through? Excerpt: A prominent Saudi cleric has issued an edict calling for opponents of the kingdom's strict segregation of men and women to be put to death if they refuse to abandon their ideas. Shaikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak said in a fatwa the mixing of genders at the workplace or in education "as advocated by modernisers" is prohibited because it allows "sight of what is forbidden, and forbidden talk between men and women".

London has become center of Hamas activity
Londinistan. Excerpt: A report by Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) labels London as the new international hub of Hamas political, legal and propaganda efforts. ITIC, a non-governmental organization dedicated to uncovering the activities of Israel's enemies, wrote that Hamas today directs the bulk of its non-violent efforts against Israel via operatives and activists in the British capital. That was evidenced recently in a string of attempted indictments against Israeli leaders in British courts. According to ITIC, Hamas was behind those legal actions. Hamas has found London a perfect center for its operations due to the easily manipulated British free speech laws, an overly tolerant British legal system and the large Arab and Muslim population in the city.

Five Taliban killed while planting bombs in Kurram\02\24\story_24-2-2010_pg7_9
Excerpt: Some feel-good news. Excerpt: Five Taliban were killed and four others were injured on Tuesday when the explosives that they were planting around their hideout detonated accidentally in Ali Sherzai Dar village, Kurram Agency, officials said. According to eyewitnesses, the Taliban wanted to blow up the house –vacated by local anti-Taliban leader Ghazi Marjan – due to the security forces’ operation in the area when the explosive material accidentally went-off, killing five of them and injuring four others. Two of the injured reported to be in critical condition. However, AFP put the death toll at four and reported six Taliban wounded in the explosion. The Taliban had been using the deserted house as a dumping ground for people kidnapped for ransom.

The Marriage of Terrorism and Nuclear Capability
Excerpt: When you think of a nuclear Iran, you probably think of atomic bombs or nuclear-tipped missiles. But few people think about the implications of an Iranian nuclear umbrella providing a cover for terrorism and subversion. At Israel's recent Jerusalem Conference, Dr. Dore Gold, former ambassador from Israel to the United Nations, predicted a possible 2012-2014 scenario in which the United States might face an attack from Shiite or Sunni terror groups. Could America respond to such an attack, as it did after 9/11, if it occurs under the threat of a nuclear Iran? According to Gold, prevention of a nuclear Iran isn't just about the security of Israel, nor does it concern only the free flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. Prevention of a nuclear Iran has implications in the overall war against radical Islamist terrorism. And, because Iran has shown that it has the ability to provide support and sanctuary for both Shiite and Sunni groups, the effects of a nuclear Iran are huge. He explained that at the time of 9/11, the U.S. security establishment stated that they would go after terrorist regimes, and they did. It was an important demonstration that made it clear that if a country supported terrorism, there would be a price to pay.

1 comment:

  1. "...the Republicans for smaller government."

    Really? It seems a long time since I've heard even the mention of scaling back government from the mouth of a Republican. In recent years, they've seemed like nothing but Democrat-lite.